Despite injuries decimating their selection options, England sealed the npower series with an emphatic 167-run victory in the third Test at Headingley earlier this week.
The stirring display they produced in Leeds leaves the selectors with a relatively straightforward choice when they announce the squad for the final Test at the Oval tomorrow, as they are expected to announce an unchanged line-up.
But the selectors and coach Duncan Fletcher are determined not to breed an atmosphere of contentment and will be urging England to go out and match the intensity of the last two winning displays.
“We’ll definitely be going out to win at the Oval,” stressed Fletcher. “We went through a period when we didn’t lose a Test for a while and now we’ve won two and 3-0 would be a lot, lot better than 2-1.”
England are expected to name an unchanged squad with Gloucestershire seamer Jon Lewis included although he may again be relegated to 12th man.
With Andrew Flintoff (ankle) expected to be fit for the start of the Ashes and Ashley Giles (hip) also making optimistic noises about doing the same, competition for places in the Ashes squad is expected to be fierce.
“We have got a strong side and we will want to keep that together — we don’t just want to win the series, we want to win it well,” said Durham all-rounder Paul Collingwood.
“The intensity and accuracy we showed on the final day at Headingley was perfect and this is exactly the kind of form we need to take to Australia.” Probable England squad: AJ Strauss (Middlesex, capt), ME Trescothick (Somerset), AN Cook (Essex), KP Pietersen (Hampshire), PD Collingwood (Durham), IR Bell (Warwickshire), CMW Read (Nottinghamshire, wkt), SI Mahmood (Lancashire), MJ Hoggard (Yorkshire), SJ Harmison (Durham), J Lewis (Gloucestershire), MS Panesar (Northamptonshire).